New Bathroom Door and Wall

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We decided our next project would be building the the bathroom wall. It was the next “big thing” we needed to have in our house so we could start measuring and drafting up plans for our closets, one of which would actually make up the back wall to the bathroom. We already installed the short wall that surrounded our tub, so now we needed to extend that wall over to the other end of the loft. This was a huge change for us! The kitchen and bathroom became two different and distinct rooms, and the final form of our interior was finally beginning to take shape.

So we went to the blue store (one of our many journeys there) to get some ideas and look around for supplies.

Now, you need to understand something here. We go there ALL THE TIME, And that is NOT an understatement. Pretty much every day we go there to buy something. (Seriously, we should buy stock in their company.) Exhibit A: Drew and I were there around 8:30pm one night looking for god knows what. We were both exhausted and covered in sawdust. Drew was looking for something in the electrical aisle, and suddenly, a young employee said, jokingly, “I feel like I see you guys here every day. Do you live in here?” Note, we’ve never seen this guy there before (and trust me, we recognize workers. We know which ones know their stuff and which ones are hard of hearing and therefore shout at us when answering our questions.) Drew replied “Yeah, we practically do live here at this point.” I guess we don’t blend in anymore…

Anyway, we found the door section and discovered they had pre-made pocket door frames with the rolling track and everything we needed to put up a wall in our house in less than a day. We found one that was just large enough for a 24″ door and discovered we could make that fit perfectly in our space. But what about the door itself? We looked at their selection and found some solid wood doors that would have been perfect, only they were a bit too tall for the space under our loft. They were the perfect width though. So, we decided to get one anyway and cut it down. Simple enough.

What we both liked about this door was that it had glass panes! It would look really nice from the kitchen and would still let bathroom light pour into the kitchen. The problem? The glass was see-through…

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Our pocket door after we cut it down and put on a coat or two of varnish.

We just couldn’t find any with frosted glass panes, so, as we do, we got creative.

So here’s the plan: we’re going to frost the glass ourselves and then paint some sort of mural on the glass to add some style. It’ll be pretty cool! We plan to shelve this project for a little while, since we have so many more pressing projects to work on at the moment. We’re looking forward to it though!

Okay. So we have our materials. Time to install!

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Luckily the frame was basically ready to install. Like most door frames on the market it was just too tall for our tiny house, but since the frame was made out of just wood we could take it apart, cut it to height, and then put it back together.

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Our bathroom ‘wall!’ The bucket is a stand-in for our lovely toilet, there for sizing.

Once the frame was the right height, it was a simple matter of sliding it into place and then nailing it to our loft beams and floor. We did have to cut small pieces of a 4×4 beam to act as a spacer above the pocket door frame, but it was a very quick process.

Next, all we had to do was add a door stop. Drew made one up from a piece of cherry and screwed it into place, and that was it.

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Next we’ll be working on the closet on the back of the bathroom wall. More to come!

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Interior Wall Boards – Part II, Installation

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You know those dreams you have where you’re slogging through some sort of hypothetical mud and can’t seem to get anywhere? That’s how the past few months have gone for us.

This is mainly due to both of us working all the time, and that makes it so that our schedules rarely line up to where we can both work on the house. This has been especially difficult since we’ve been working on installing the walls, which really is a two person job. We’re lucky if we can get in one day a week where we can actually make some progress.

Anyway, I hope that helps explain why our blog posts have been so rare the past few months. We know we’re getting closer to the finish line, but man has it been slow. Especially compared to the first few months we worked on the house when we were able to get the structural walls up in about a month. Let it be known to all people who wish to build a tiny house, your finish work will take a long time and will require a lot of patience! Just keep at it!

So as we mentioned in our previous post, we finally finished creating all the boards for the interior walls. Next came installing them. This went rather smoothly – the main challenge was working around outlets, light-switches, and windows.. especially when we had to deal with all three on one board. Three cheers for jigsaws!

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In the loft on the right side.

We started with the right long wall that extends into the kitchen. We started at the floor (keeping it in the gap we had left for such occasion when we installed and stained our floors). we worked our way up until the lofts and roof began. Drew had the fun job of installing smaller pieces between each of the rafters. We think it turned out well.

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A crappy picture lighting-wise, but at least you can see the board layout. It looks a lot better in person.
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We painted the heads of our screws to match the wood. Now our panels are removable in case we ever need to get behind them to fix something. Also, this window edge will be refined and covered with trim.

 

Behind each board we would install our wool insulation (remember this?) We had to retrieve our random bags and boxes of wool from all over the shop, hidden away after the subfloor disaster. Installing the wool went well – as long as we avoided the nails sticking through the plywood. Ouch.

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So much wool. Wool everywhere.

Predictably, we then worked on the left long wall. We stopped where the bathroom starts, because we needed to use a special waterproofing system for the walls there. From there we were free to work on the nook area and the back wall. We managed to get this far over the course of a few weeks.

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Yet another crappy picture, but this shows you the left wall up to where the bathroom and closet start.
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The wheel well will be covered with a piece of our wall plywood and framed with trim.

Next, it was time for playing with ladders! Our favorite. We began installing our gable roof ceiling panels, which was tricky for many reasons. For one, we have all our finished boards in a giant stack in the center of the house. It is a tiny house after all, meaning there’s not much space to maneuver around a giant stack of wood. So aside from needing to move ladders around the pile, we needed to have a box of wool high enough that we could reach it to install while standing on the ladder, and we had the awkward angle of the roof to contend with. We’re essentially installing the panels upside down. Somehow we managed to do one whole side of the roof. At the top near the ridge beam we had to be clever about installing the wool. We only had a small space in which to get it in there, so it did rain wool in our house as we tried to fit it in the small crack. Overall it turned out well.

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Working our way up the ceiling.
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Working up over the storage loft.

We only did one half of the ceiling because we’re waiting for our new woodstove! We need to know where the exhaust pipe will exit through the ceiling before we can work on the other side of the roof. In other news, we ordered our cute little woodstove! More on that in another post.

 

Onward to the dormer walls. Again, working around the windows was tricky, but thankfully we actually had something to sit on while working. The half circle window in the dormers actually went more smoothly than we thought it would. We cut a piece to fit the length, cut the outlet holes, and then traced the outline of the window on the back and cut it with a jigsaw. Voila.

 

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The cheek walls (the triangular walls created between the dormer and gable roofs) were a little more tricky too, but we employed the same technique we used with the half circle dormer window and traced each board to fit. All these rough edges will be covered with trim, which helps.

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We also finished the dormer ceiling! We may not have dealt with ladders, but we still had fight gravity.

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We had to install wedges in order to create the curve in the ceiling to go over the ridge beam.
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Our finished dormer ceiling! (Sans trim.)

So that’s as far as we are now! Making progress, slowly but surely. And now winter’s here. At least our house will be insulated for it. Onward!

Our Cute Little Front Door

I must proclaim that we have the cutest, most adoorable door in all the land. Just look at it!

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Drew’s dad Sam kindly put the door together for us. He used birch for the sides and pine for the paneling.

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Here the unfinished door is being held by clamps as the wood glue and silicone dry.

Drew and I ordered paint from ECOS because it was a non toxic exterior-grade paint. Unlike many other name brand paints, it lacks many of the heavy duty curing agents that make cause headaches, allergies, nausea, fatigue, and that infamous “wet paint” chemical smell. Ugh. We chose a barn-red color because we thought it’d go with the natural look of the cedar and would match our house well. We still may end up painting the exterior of our house because linseed oil isn’t a long-lasting solution, but if we do paint we’ll probably stick to a color close to what it is already – which goes well with the barn red.

After we painted one coat on the door we let it dry overnight. It was then time to work on installation! Drew worked with Sam on this. First, they measured the rough opening of the door, and installed a 1/2″ jamb around the top and sides. From there, they squared it up using shims to make the opening a consistent width all the way up and down. Inside, they mortised the door hinges into the door. Mortising is a technique used in door-making where the places where the hinges sit are actually cut into the door and door frame so they are flush. This part is super important to get right – everything needs to be square or the hinges will not work as smoothly. From there, they took the door outside and shimmed it up to just slightly above the height of the threshold and screwed the hinges in just to mark where they would sit. From that point on, it was a slow process of sanding and planing the door to just about 1/8th of an inch smaller than the door jamb on all sides. Once that was done and the door swung completely closed without any force, they took the door off the jamb and gave it a second coat of paint.

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Doesn’t it look amazing? They did a great job.

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Even though the door looks wonderful, we unfortunately have some issues with our beautifully small door.

For one, the window is slightly too large… Don’t worry, it fits just fine, but it makes installing a door knob and lock a bit more complicated. Here’s the deal: our window is so tall and wide that it actually makes the first available place to install a handle and lock very low. Lower than a standard door, for sure. Not only that, but we have a very limited amount of vertical space to install our hardware. We calculated that there is about 4 or 5 inches of vertical space to place both a deadbolt and a door handle. That is simply too little space for two large pieces of hardware that need big holes. We decided to keep a standard locking handle, but to look for something non standard for the deadbolt.

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The final placement of the door handle and lock

We discovered that over in jolly old England they make a kind of lock called a night latch, which is a kind of deadbolt lock that automatically locks behind you and can be opened with a key from the outside. The great part about these locks is that they are standardized which means they have many of the modern security functions of an American deadbolt like being bump, jimmy, and kick resistant. However, the best part is that they only require a 1″ hole, and the bulk of the hardware mounts on the interior surface of the door! This means it will take up less space than a standard deadbolt, and be just as safe.

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We put a wooden shim in the top of the door to keep it from opening in the wind. It’s working so far.

Next we installed the door handle and lock, which took a while to arrive by mail. In the meantime, we had to use a plastic sheet to keep water from getting inside. (Ever tried to keep a door without a handle or anything to grab onto from opening in the wind? How do you keep it from opening on its own? It’s a weird problem.)

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Our protective plastic monstrosity. This surprisingly-durable plastic sheet has been with us through thick and thin since the beginning.

Because of the predicament mentioned earlier we ended up installing our deadbolt at the top of the door and the door handle in the middle. It’s still shorter than the average door handle.

Next, we needed to install weather stripping. This was a challenge. We’re trying to build this house as green as possible by sourcing as many plastic free, green materials that we can find, but as you can guess this is not easy. The majority of weather stripping we’ve found is either vinyl or PVC, both of which can leach toxic chemicals. Plus, the majority of them had Prop 65 warnings, which we also wanted to avoid. After hours of searching we finally came across rubber ones from Home Depot without a Prop 65 warning. Installing them was easy, as they just fit into the grooves (also called “kerfs”) on our doorstop. We needed to adjust our doorstop a few times for a secure fit, but in the end we had a tight weather seal all the way around the door.

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Things will slow down from here as we begin on the plumbing and electrical. We have a large learning curve ahead of us, especially when searching for green plumbing materials…

Where To Store Our Bicycles? – Part One

Early on in the designing process Drew and I ran into a problem. We both like to use bicycles for transportation, so we certainly want to keep them with us in our house, but we couldn’t figure out where to store them. We looked up creative bike storage solutions, and while many of them would work for ‘normal’ houses, none would fit in our house. We considered creating a pulley-storage system where we’d attach the bikes to cables and hoist them up to hang from the roof in the great room. But besides the possibility of hitting our heads on them every time we ascend or descend from the loft, we didn’t like the idea of tracking road grit into the house or onto the ceiling. So that left exterior storage. We have no idea where we’ll be parking and we don’t know if we’ll have access to a water-resistant garage, so our system needed to be independent of where we are located. We definitely want to keep our bikes out of the elements since we plan to use them often. So what should we do?

 

We came up with the idea of building a bicycle storage box on the tongue of the trailer. We have around three feet horizontally and four feet vertically to work with. We built a floor frame with 2x2s and put it on the trailer. Then we brought our bikes to the work-site and tried it out based on our dimensions. They fit! BUT of course there’s a caveat. Our bikes can stand up in that space, but this would create a very shallow roof pitch for the box. Since our box is right under the kitchen window, we don’t have very much height to work with – especially since we still need to add trim to the bottom of the window.

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So how could we get both bikes to fit easily? We already decided the box would be accessible from either side – basically the doors will fold down into a ramp that we can use to roll the bikes into the box. Smart, right? Theoretically yes, if we could figure out how to get our bikes to fit…

 

So we brainstormed and came up with a solution. Since Drew’s bike is larger than mine, Drew agreed to take off his front tire whenever he stores his bike. We tried the process and he could complete the whole thing in under a minute. We then put the bikes on the floor frame and were able to create a much steeper roof pitch! (It’s even deeper than our dormers, which are a shallow 12 degrees.)  We had a solution!

 

Next we set to making the box. We used 2x2s because they’re thinner than 2x4s, which allowed for more interior space.

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We added six vertical studs to each long side of the box and cut roofing rafters at a 14 degree angle so that they lined up with the studs. We used rafter ties for support since we’ll be facing hurricane-force winds on the road.

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Then we cut plywood sections for the front wall and roof, glued and drilled them in place, then set to covering the whole thing with tar paper. We started at the base and worked our way up under the kitchen window. We tucked the top ends under the existing tar paper around the window, sealed the whole thing with flashing tape, and nailed it in with the same kind of cap nails we used for the roof.

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Next, it was onto the doors. This was tricky because we needed to account for the hinge at the base of the doors, which could interfere with whatever trim we used on the door. We decided to use reclaimed cedar boards from a local beekeeper friend of Drew’s dad (the same as the kind we used for behind the water and electrical outputs) for the door. We also routed a groove around the edges of the door so that the door would fit snugly into the frame when closed and keep water out. We tucked the edges of the tar paper in around the frame and attached cedar trim on the exterior opening.

This is as far as we’ve gotten at this point. Now it’s time to build the actual doors! Keep an eye out for part two!